Ancient Chinese rice wine finds way to Europe through deal with EU


Europeans are soon to be introduced to the delights of one of China's most ancient wines, thanks to the Geographical Indications deal agreed with the EU a year ago.

The rice wine comes from Shaoxing city in the Yangtze Delta, which since ancient times has been known as "the land of fish and rice."

The city has more than 2,500 years of history, including the making and drinking of rice wine, which is popular throughout East Asia, but far less well-known in Europe.

Chen Youliang, secretary-general of the Rice Wine Association of Shaoxing, told CGTN: "Previously Shaoxing wine has been sold to Japan and Southeast Asia, but virtually none goes to the EU. So this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for our marketing."

Producers in Shaoxing are hopeful the recent deal with the EU, which protects speciality goods like rice wine, will mean their products will reach customers much farther afield.

The best-quality wines are still produced by hand and production starts in winter. After about three months of natural fermentation, the wine is then decanted and sterilized and then aged in clay jars.

Guo Qirui, senior artisan at Jianhu Winery explains: "Hand brewing allows us to keep the original taste and flavor of the grains. All the microorganisms and bacteria have participated in the conversion process, unlike in machine fermentation, only certain bacteria are allowed. This is why hand-made wine tastes richer."

Shaoxing wine is expected to arrive in Europe as early as January.